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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 December, 2004, 01:30 GMT
Entertainment stars lost in 2004
Marlon Brando
Oscar-winning actor Marlon Brando died aged 80 in July
A number of major figures from the entertainment and arts world died in 2004.

To the vast majority of us every one of these writers, performers and artists was a complete stranger, yet they regularly connected with us through their work.

Their loss will remain keenly felt by their admirers, who are nevertheless certain of their enduring influence.

Here is a selection of those cultural figures who passed away over the last year:


John Peel
Broadcaster John Peel gained a huge following in his 40-year career
Broadcaster John Peel, who introduced thousands of Radio 1 listeners to their favourite bands, died in October aged 65 while on holiday in Peru.

Over a 40-year career his sustained passion for music and his warmth as host of Radio 4's Home Truths gained him widespread affection and respect.

Former Blue Peter presenter Caron Keating died aged 41 in April, losing her seven-year battle with breast cancer.

In March broadcaster Alistair Cooke died aged 95, weeks after giving up his 58-year position as host of Radio 4's weekly Letter From America.

Bafta-winning television writer Jack Rosenthal , responsible for early episodes of Coronation Street and London's Burning, and TV presenter and steeplejack Fred Dibnah lost their fights against cancer.

Broadcaster and journalist Bernard Levin, Auf Wiedersehen Pet star Pat Roach, US stand-up comic Rodney Dangerfield, Rentaghost star Molly Weir and Guinness Book of Records co-founder and TV presenter Norris McWhirter also passed away in 2004.


Janet Leigh
Janet Leigh, star of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, died in October
Screen legend Marlon Brando, whose 60-year career was built on a series of emotionally intense roles, died aged 80 in July.

Having won best actor Oscars for On the Waterfront and The Godfather, the brooding performer retained his privacy until the end, with the cause of his death remaining secret.

Superman star Christopher Reeve, who became paralysed after a riding accident in 1995, died of heart failure in October at the age of 52.

Actor and raconteur Sir Peter Ustinov, who starred in Spartacus and made the role of Agatha Christie sleuth Hercule Poirot his own, died aged 82 in March from heart failure.

Actress Janet Leigh, whose performance as a woman stabbed to death in the shower in Psycho remains a horror archetype, died aged 77 in October, while Hollywood musicals and Dallas star Howard Keel passed away in November aged 85.

Cult film director Russ Meyer, whose hits included 1965's Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, died aged 82 of pneumonia complications in September. Musical actress Ann Miller and King Kong heroine Fay Wray also passed away.


Ray Charles
Pioneering singer and pianist Ray Charles was known as The Genius
Singer, pianist and soul pioneer Ray Charles died in June aged 73, barely a year after he played his 10,000th concert.

Blind since the age of six, Charles' intense renditions of classic songs earned him 12 Grammy awards and the nickname The Genius. He died of acute liver disease.

Singer Sacha Distel, a huge star in his native France who had a worldwide hit with Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head in 1970, died after a long illness aged 71 in July.

US funk star Rick James, best known for his 1981 hit Super Freak, was found dead at the age of 56 following a heart attack in August. American rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard, a founding member of influential hip hop act Wu-Tang Clan, died aged 35 in November after a drug overdose.

Film composers Elmer Bernstein and Jerry Goldsmith, the writers behind scores to The Great Escape and The Omen, died during the summer.

Rock lost one its biggest stars when Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott, guitarist with Damageplan, was killed on stage during a concert in Ohio.

Les Gray, singer with glam rock band Mud, The Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone, Laura Branigan, who had a 1982 hit with Gloria, and New York Dolls bassist Arthur Kane also died this year.


Olivia Goldsmith
First Wives Club author Olivia Goldsmith died aged 54 in January
Henri Cartier-Bresson, an undisputed pioneer of photojournalism, died in south-east France in August, a few weeks short of his 96th birthday.

He inspired thousands of budding photographers to walk the streets with their cameras, searching for that "decisive moment" - the split second of timing that helped transform a picture into an iconic image.

Joan Aiken, writer of more than 100 children's books including The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, died in January at the age of 79.

Russian ballet star Sofia Golovkina, who directed the Bolshoi Ballet Theatre school for more than 40 years, died in March aged 88. That same month French dancer Ludmilla Tcherina, one of the leading ballet stars of her generation and star of the film The Red Shoes, died in Paris aged 79.

Dame Alicia Markova died in December and was the UK's first prima ballerina of the modern age, and, in her heyday, the greatest in the western world. Poet Thom Gunn, First Wives Club author Olivia Goldsmith, travel writer Pete McCarthy, US children's author Paula Danziger and New Zealand writer Janet Frame, whose autobiography was turned into the film Angel at My Table, also passed away in 2004.


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